Residents of Jos, the Plateau State capital, are reported to have heaved a sigh of relief as a lion which escaped from the Jos Wild Life Park yesterday morning has been found and shot dead within the premises of the park. I myself, coming from there and having my family live not too far away from the park am relieved that no one was hurt, however, I cannot say I am too happy at the handling of the situation.
And I will explain. But first, the facts…
An official of the Plateau State Ministry of Tourism, in charge of the park, Abdullahi Abe, confirmed that the animal had been shot dead.
He said the body of the lion would be taken to the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Jos south Local Government Area the state, for preservation.
Mr. Abe said the lion did not harm anyone as speculated. He did not give further details.
The lion escaped from the park situated at Dong community of Jos North Local Government Area thereby causing panic among residents of nearby Dong, State and Federal Low-cost housing estates, Rantiya, Miango Road and Tudun Wada.
The lion which has been caged in the park since 1972 was said to have escaped at about 8am when park attendants went to the cage to feed it but a staff of the Tourism Cooperation confirmed “the lion was sighted within the park premises and shot dead before it could cause any harm to people.”
At the time the wild animal roamed the vicinity of the park which is not fenced, frantic efforts were made to recapture it. Security outfits in the state deployed personnel to the area to assist in keeping the animal within the park premises.
The police spokesperson, Abuh Emmanuel, said officers had hoped to recover the lion alive.
“We had dispatched our men with experts in search of the lion with the intention to recover the animal alive,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
The escape of the lion caused panic in the town as many residents stayed indoors for fear of being attacked.
Docars Gwani, a resident at the federal low cost housing estate near the park, said they were afraid that the animal could attack anyone.
The general manager of the park, John Doy, had said the lion, “slipped through the gate of the cage when it was opened for its routine feeding”.
“The animal is still within the vicinity of the park but our fear is that the park is not fenced,” he had warned.
A staff who confirmed the killing of the lion to the vanguard regretted the death of the carnivore.
He noted: “We are not really having any significant animals in the park. It is the lion and the elephant that attract tourists the most but now that the lion is gone, we are sad because we cannot say exactly when we will have another.
“Since we lost the last hippo some years back, there has not been any replacement. We just pray that this case will be different because tourists may not really be excited if there are no high profile animals in the park.”
So why am I not happy?
- After 43 years how could they let the lion slip out? Who is responsible for this slip up?
- What impact will this have on Plateau state’s tourism industry?
- How serious is the state government taking this situation?